A Tudor Rose

Wars of the Roses

Historian John Davies looks at the impact of the Wars of the Roses on the lead-up to the accession of Henry VII and the beginning of the Tudor dynasty.

Between the 1450s and the 1480s, the territories of the English crown were ravaged by the struggle between the houses of Lancaster and York.

The Lancastrian line was descended from the third son of Edward III, while the Yorkists were descended, via the Mortimers, from Edward's second son and also from the fourth son.

In 1460 Henry VI, grandson of Henry IV, was replaced on the throne by the Yorkist Edward IV. In 1485 Edward's brother, the usurper Richard III, was replaced by the Lancastrian, Henry VII. Henry married Edward IV's daughter and their son, Henry VIII, was representative of both houses.

This struggle had a major impact on Wales. Initially at least, the principality was a Lancastrian stronghold, while the March, particularly the Mortimer lordships, was central to the ambitions of the Yorkists.

The ultimate victor, Henry Tudor, a descendant of Edward III on his mother's side, was of Welsh and French descent on his father's side.

The Tudor dynasty, with perhaps somewhat overblown connections with the ancient princes of Wales, became the focus of the loyalties of the Welsh gentry.

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